Slicing Up Television Pie

Article excerpt

Oklahoma City will gain a new commercial television station with the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority's planned sale of KTLC- 43 to Paramount Stations Group. The Federation starship Voyager, along with all the rest of UPN, could return to the metro airwaves by April or May.

But can the market support another commercial station? Bear in mind Heritage Media sold the station to OETA in the first place thinking this market had more commercial broadcasters than it could support.

Competition among the channels is definitely on the rise, notes Roy Kelsey, a University of Oklahoma associate professor of journalism and mass communication. And it's highly unlikely any local companies will be increasing their ad budgets. In other words, the TV ad pie will not get any bigger as a result of the new station, but it will be cut into smaller slices -- especially since a lot of local TV advertising dollars now are spent on cable, which reaches about 64 percent of metro homes. If regulators approve the OETA sale, Oklahoma City will, for the first time, have six commercial broadcast network affiliates. The two newest networks, Viacom's UPN and Time-Warner's The WB, hit the airwaves in January 1995, joining NBC (Channel 4), ABC (Channel 5), CBS (Channel 9) and Fox (Channel 25). Oklahoma City's KOCB-34 immediately became a UPN affiliate, but no local business picked up The WB. Last year, however, Sinclair Broadcast Group, KOCB's owner, signed a 10-year deal to switch KOCB and four other stations from UPN to The WB -- a change that took effect Friday. That set the stage for this month's OETA decision to sell KTLC to Viacom's subsidiary for $23.5 million, in order to fund OETA's transition to a digital signal. The deal is awaiting approval from the Federal Communications Commission. David Davis, an entertainment industry analyst with Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin in Los Angeles, notes independent TV stations are becoming increasingly rare, as most are owned by large media companies and affiliated with networks. Even so, the general opinion is that most TV markets can't support all six networks. …


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